First of all, apologies for the lack of updates. While I had started this post almost two weeks ago, I found myself suddenly very busy with real life. Between staffing a local convention and a couple of job interviews, I just haven't had time to work on the blog. I'm hoping to catch up over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Tor Teen 2011
YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012
There have been few books I can recall where my initial reaction to the premise and my final reaction are so completely disparate. Going in, all I really knew about the plot was that the protagonist, Cas Lowood, went around the country (and Canada, apparently, given the novel's Ontario setting) slaying ghosts with his father's magic dagger (an athame). It sounded like a lame attempt at writing a prose version of Bleach. I have never been more wrong about a book.
While Ms. Blake's work never shies away from the violence and gore that denote the work as horror, it is her juxtaposition of horror with sarcastic, referential humor that sets this work apart from others in the genre. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will definitely see shades of the Scooby Gang here, which is all for the better. Without the humor, this tale would likely have proven too grim for the average reader.
The characters, especially Cas and Anna, are well-thought out and complex for the book's relatively short length, and the brisk pacing ensures that readers never tire of the dark events that could easily have become mired in a lengthier work. A new sequel, Girl of Nightmare, continues the story, which ends somewhat abruptly, and promises to give fans another thrill ride, if the reviews I've read are any indication.